A season-high 55 percent shooting performance was not enough to upset first place Fresno State when the Vandals fell 76-68 Thursday night on the road.
Idaho coach Jon Newlee said coming into the game his team would have to take care of the ball, but that didn’t happen. The Vandals (8-18, 3-7 WAC) turned the ball over 27 times, leading to 17 second change points for the Bulldogs (21-4, 9-0 WAC). The game gives Idaho its second straight loss.
Idaho had a less than stellar start in the first half, falling behind early. But the Vandals found a way to come back, as they have done all season, and went on a 13-3 run to go into the locker room down by just six with the score 38-32.
The second half remained close. Half way through the period the Vandals went on a run that ended with sophomore Jessica Graham hitting a layup that gave the Vandals a one point lead with score 57-56, but it was quickly erased.
The Bulldogs countered with a 13-1 run of their own to retake the lead, which they never relinquished. The Vandals got close on several occasions, but Fresno State was able to hit their three-throws down the stretch and take the victory.
Senior Ganeaya Rogers led the Vandals with 15 points while sophomore Alyssa Charlston pitched in with 14. Freshman Stacey Barr rounded off Idaho’s top scorers with 12.
The Vandals are in need of a few more conference wins to get a better seeding for the WAC tournament, which starts in less than a month. Idaho still has a shot at fourth place.
The win kept things rolling for Fresno State and keeps the win streak intact. The Bulldogs are all alone atop the conference standings with a perfect 9-0 record. Nevada is the only team in striking distance of Fresno State.
The Vandals will continue the road trip when they travel to last place Nevada on Saturday. The Vandals will be looking for revenge after Nevada beat them earlier in the year. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Seniors Deremy Geiger, Djim Bandoumel and Landon Tatum talk about Saturday’s game against Portland State in the Sears Bracket Buster matchup and their last home game as Vandals
uiargonaut.com profiles University of Idaho women’s tennis player Molly Knox
University of Idaho mens basketball coach Don Verlin, forward Kyle Barone and guard Landon Tatum talk about the team’s 73-64 victory over La. Tech on Feb. 11.
Junior center Kyle Barone was named the Verizon WAC Player of the Week, marking the first time this season an Idaho men’s player has been honored with the award.
Barone earned his first ever player of the week award after leading the Vandals to three wins in a span of five days.
The Garden Grove, Calif. native’s week included two double-doubles, against Seattle U. and La. Tech. Barone was two rebounds shy of a double-double during Thursday’s upset of New Mexico State.
In Idaho’s 70-69 victory against the Redhawks last Tuesday, Barone posted a team-high 17 points and 12 rebounds, while converting seven of eight from the charity stripe.
Against a massive New Mexico State team, Barone notched a game-high 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Barone and senior Djim Bandoumel also combined for eight blocks.
But Barone was most impressive in Saturday’s win over La. Tech. With a major size advantage, the junior tied a career-high 15 rebounds, most of which came in the first half. His 13 defensive rebounds were a career-high and 11 of his 14 points came in the first half.
The preseason all-WAC first team candidate averaged 15.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 2.0 assists per game last week, while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor and 73.3 percent from the free throw line.
Barone now has eight double-doubles on the season.
In what proved to be an overwhelming task for the Vandal men’s basketball team, it was Idaho (14-11, 6-4 WAC) who overwhelmed New Mexico State (17-3, 6-8 WAC), defeating the Aggies 59-58 Thursday evening in the Cowan Spectrum.
Idaho overcame a seven-point Aggie lead with less than five minutes remaining and with five seconds left to play, Kyle Barone slipped an unanticipated but brilliant pass into the hands of Djim Bandoumel, who was wide open for the lay-up. The Aggies put the ball into the hands of WAC leading scorer Wendell McKines but McKines’ deep jumper guarded tightly Barone had no chance, sending the Vandals away with their third consecutive victory.
“We had kind of an idea of what we wanted to do after the inbounds play and I felt like I could get by my guy and I saw Djim’s guy help and there was nobody guarding him to help on help so I dished it off to him and he finished it,” Barone said.
Against a much bigger, much more physical New Mexico State team, Idaho won the battle inside the key, scoring more points in the paint and out-rebounding the Aggies, a team who out-rebounded Idaho 38-21 when the two met one month ago.
Idaho, the WAC’s leading three-point percentage team, were a dismal 1-10 from three-point range Thursday and the same Vandal team that averages almost 67 percent from the free-throw line were 50 percent for the second consecutive game, this time shooting 6-12 from the line.
It was the efficient, yet effective Idaho defense though that held the visitors to their lowest point total of the year including both conference and non-conference contests. To further emphasize Idaho’s defensive success, the Aggies lead the WAC in total scoring offense with an average of almost 77 points-per-game. The game also marked the second time this year Idaho has been victorious scoring less than 60 points.
Though Barone and Bandoumel counteracted the Aggie size and speed with their strong presence underneath the basket, a less likely face in junior college transfer Mike McChristian picked the perfect time to heat up. McChristiaon hadn’t seen action in the team’s last three games and hadn’t scored since the Vandals’ loss in Las Cruces last month but it was the junior who propelled Idaho to a 10-2 run in the first half that would conclude with a McChristian bank-shot buzzer beater to tie the score at 31-31.
McChristian concluded with a career-high eight points off of a 4-4 shooting clip.
Coach Don Verlin made it clear that McChristian had been nothing more than a practice squad player in recent weeks, but his efforts were worthy of game MVP honors.
“Awesome game, probably the player of the game,” coach Don Verlin said. “I thought he turned the tides, Mike hasn’t played in a couple of games, wonderful kid, has been on the scout team and hasn’t gotten a lot of run for whatever reason… It was great to see him step up and make those plays, probably won the game for us.”
Down the stretch, the Vandals trailed by as many as seven with five minutes to play and while the clutch shooting was inexistent, the hard-nosed defense was.
Idaho’s 8-0 run to close the game consisted of four consecutive missed Aggie shots and two missed free throws.
While Bandoumel was the one that gave Idaho it’s crucial go-ahead basket, the Quebec native was the first one to praise Barone for yet another dominating performance.
“Coach called big plays for him and he was just going hard,” Bandoumel said. “And KB (Barone), I always say to him, when you have the ball nobody can stop you in that league and just go hard and good things are going to happen.”
Bandoumel polished off an impressive night with a career-high six blocks while his counterpart Barone tallied a game-high 16 points. Barone’s nine rebounds were also a game-high and his four assists were a career-high.
“It’s always hard to adjust to New Mexico State’s quickness and size and I thought we did a much better job in the first eight or ten minutes of adjusting to what they have to offer,” Verlin said. “They’re so physically imposing, for the lack of a better word, they intimidate you a little bit… I thought our guys did a great job of battling all night long.”
Idaho host La. Tech to close out the home WAC season Saturday evening at 8:05 PM in the Cowan Spectrum. The Bulldogs (11-13, 3-6 WAC) are coming off of three consecutive losses and fell at the hands of the Vandals 90-88 last month in Ruston.